One Dinner in NYC - Unique but American
Visiting NYC in late october - want a unique NYC-only dinner but not overly adventurous- my dining companion is conservative in tastes - i.e. no sushi, no foie gras etc. (not my choice but there you go). Also needs to be casual - i.e. no jacket/no tie required. Italian OK but would rather have something new americanish - or even steak is okay. Any ideas? Also any Bobby Flay restaurant is out. Is that specific enough?
I highly recommend Keens. It's been in its 36th St. location since 1885! Thus, in addition to excellent steaks, chops (the signature mutton chop is famous), etc., there's unmatchable old NY ambiance, i.e., walls filled with memorabilia + rows of old clay smoking pipes suspended from all the ceilings. No jacket required.
Is Katz's too casual? It's unique, NYC-only, not too adventurous (if Pastrami is a walk on the wild side, which seems unlikely, there's always good old corned beef), casual... I guess there's nothing new-americanish about it.
Anyway, Keens and Peter Luger are both great choices - NYC does have a proud tradition of delicious steaks - and if a sandwich isn't properly formal, I'd like to second both of those recommendations. But I think Katz's is a much more uniquely NYC meal. I mean, it might not be Peter Luger's, but you can get a pretty great steak in many major cities in America. But a pastrami like Katz's? Not exactly commonplace.
I would suggest either Telepan or Compass on the UWS.
You can google these menus and see for yourself if these make the grade.
Peter Luger's and Keen's are very NYC. Katz' (and Second Avenue Deli if it re-opens before your visit) is more of a lunch place. Though sometimes one can be in the mood for a deli dinner! We went to the Bridge Cafe this weekend. We wanted to try Belle de Jour (replaced Radio Mexico) but it still hasn't re-opened. The Bridge is a restaurant near the Brooklyn Bridge/South Street Seaport (one of the few in the area with good food). It's also one of the oldest restaurants in the city, rich with history. We had a delicious dinner and the service was excellent. I've lived near the Bridge Cafe for over 10 years and couldn't remember if I've ever been. I hope to post a report soon.
Also, Delmonico's is downtown. I've never been so can't comment on food, service, etc. It is where American classics like Delmonico steaks, Baked Alaska, Lobster Newberg, etc. were invented. Back in the days when oysters were served 24 hours a day at the Fulton Fish Market (sadly in the Bronx now) and they were cheap.
p.s. The Bridge Cafe cuisine (American) meets your requirements and dress is casual. After dinner you can go for a walk and take in the Brooklyn Bridge and Woolworth building views.
Belle de Jour (French) was still closed so we went to the Bridge Cafe (American) about two weeks ago on a Friday night. We did not have a reservation. The host seated us almost immediately. There was a large group dining, looked like a rehearsal dinner. Noise level was still fine. Adam assisted with the wine list (server was astute enough to suggest we speak with him). A belated report follows below.
Service was excellent. Wine list could be enhanced and was not as extensive as The Harrison (another American restaurant downtown). We had the following with a bottle of wine:
*Warmed maytag bleu cheese souffle, fruit and grapas in port syrup
*Steamed P.E.I. mussels with andouille sausage, jalapeno peppers, cilantro, spicy tomato broth
*Duck - sliced duck breast with shredded duck breast in a mound on top of the slices
*Goat cheese grits
Warm chocolate indulgence with vanilla gelato
Everything was delicious and satisfying. Nothing spectacular or cutting edge. This is a lovely, historic, charming restaurant with good, solid food and excellent service. Tucked under the Brooklyn Bridge it's a cozy place for a rainy or snowy night or when you don't want to wander far from home.